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Photos: Christmas in the City Parade

By Howard B. Owens


Downtown merchants, through the Business Improvement District, hosted their annual Christmas in the City Parade on Saturday evening.

Photos by Philip Casper.








Cline, Hanks eclipse 800; Fluker, Herold post 300 games

By Press Release

Press release:

Genesee Region USBC bowlers produced three 300 games and two 800 series during another week of prolific league bowling.

At Mancuso Bowling Center, Middleport left-hander Brian Cline added to his long list of honor scores by finishing with a 300 game for an 815 series in the Mancuso Real Estate Monday Night Doubles League.

Cline's games were 268-247-300, raising his average to 239. According to his list of achievements on the United States Bowling Congress website, he has a remarkable 43 800 series and 63 perfect games since August 2001.

At Rose Garden Bowl in Bergen, Batavia right-hander Tom Fluker notched his 12th USBC-certified 300 game in the Wednesday Men's Handicap League. His games were 204-300-238 for a 742 series.

The previous week, Fluker picked the 4-6-7-10 ("Big Four") to earn a special award from the GRUSBC.

At Legion Lanes in Le Roy, Shayne Herold of Batavia registered his second perfect game in the American Legion Thursday Men's League. The right-hander started with 279 and 300 before struggling in game three for a 737 series. 

And at Oak Orchard Bowl in Albion, Robbie Hanks of Spencerport spun 279-269-256--804 for his fifth USBC-certified 800 series. The son of hall proprietor Randy Hanks, he raised his average to 233.

In the Turnbull Heating Triples League at Mancuso's, Batavian Mike Pettinella finished with 269-277 for a 793 series, upping his average to 230, and in the Wednesday Nite Ladies League, also at Mancuso's, Kim Williams closed with 227 for a 638 series.

For a list of high scores, click on the Pin Points tab at the top of the home page.

City PD's non-emergency number temporarily out of service

By Press Release

Press release:

Currently, the City of Batavia Police Department's non-emergency phone line, (585) 345-6350, is experiencing an outage.  Anyone looking to contact the City of Batavia Police Department is asked to call 345-6351 until further notice. 

This outage does not affect 911 calls, anyone experiencing an emergency should contact the Genesee County Dispatch Center using 911.

Photos: Vintage Christmas at Northgate

By Howard B. Owens


Northgate Free Methodist Church in Batavia held a Vintage Christmas celebration on Friday evening.

The church will host another Vintage Christmas event from 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday. 

It includes a nativity walk through the woods with live animals, food, tree lighting, s’mores roasting over an open fire, Santa and outdoor Christmas movies.

Photos by Allison Lang.









Fire extinguished at auto auction business in Bergen

By Joanne Beck

A fire that involved several vehicles Saturday afternoon on Appletree Avenue was "under control fairly quickly, especially with the wind we had today," Bergen Fire Department reports.

The fire was reported to be at Insurance Auto Auction, 7149 Appletree Ave., Bergen.  

Responding fire departments included Bergen, Le Roy, Churchville and Byron. The International Association of Arson Investigators became involved with the incident.

"IAA management was on scene minutes after the 911 call was received, and worked with our department to form a game plan," Bergen Fire Department said. "They assisted us with anything we needed and provided two loaders to move vehicles. There were no EV cars involved in the fire. Thank you for everyone’s support and kind words, all first responders returned home safely."

Local Authors Night set for Dec. 8 at GO Art!

By Joanne Beck

Genesee-Orleans Regional Arts Council wil be hosting a Local Authors Night from 6 to 9 p.m. at 201 East Main St., Batavia, organizer Sammy DiSalvo says.

"Come support local authors with a night of meet and greets, readings, Q & A's, and book signings," DiSalvo said. "This event features five authors -- Greg Van Dussen, David Neth, Sammy DiSalvo, Andrew Freeman, and Mary Ellen Reardon -- from the Western New York community, and some of their most recent works."

GO Art!’s cash bar will be available during this event.

Go HERE for a full list of events for the evening. To learn more about GO Art!, call 585-343-9313.


Christmas in the City brings holiday cheer to downtown Batavia

By Joanne Beck


Carter Ianiro, 2, shares some special time with Santa Claus Saturday at Santa's Village in Batavia City Centre. 

Downtown Batavia was bustling with visitors and shoppers during the annual Christmas in the City Saturday at Batavia City Centre and along downtown streets. Hosted by the Business Improvement District, this year's indoor activities featured Santa's Village, with a workshop, carolers, dancers, and the jolly ol' elf himself, Santa Claus.

As with any successful event, planning and hands-on help make it happen. And Christmas in the City is no exception.

“We spent a week here decorating and setting up the chairs for people,” BID Executive Director Shannon Maute said. “And there’s face painting, cookie decorating, ornament making, and we’re trying to get people to the horse and buggy from 3 to 6, and then it will swing by and pick up Santa and me for the parade.”

Morning long rain slowed down by the afternoon, which should make for a drier horse and buggy ride up to 6 p.m. That will take off from Center Street Smokehouse on Center Street, and tickets may be purchased at Adam Miller Toy & Bike shop.

Batavia City Centre was filled with kids playing games, people shopping the many vendor items, eating and drinking, and, of course, some whispering in Santa’s ear.

“I am very excited about the turnout. I thought it would be busy but didn’t know it was going to be this busy,” said Maute, aka Santa’s elf. “Most of the kids are saying they just want to have a happy Christmas, they’re not even asking for gifts. This is great, it’s not great weather out, so I’m glad we had a backup. Hopefully, the wind calms down for the parade. It has been a really nice turnout, with lots to do, we have a kid's zone where kids could play with the toys.

“And having it in this space really brings everyone together, and they’re having a really great time,” she said.

The parade kicks off at 6 p.m. and runs from Jefferson Avenue to Summit Street along Main Street.


BID Executive Director Shannon Maute, aka Santa's elf.










Christmas in the City draws plenty of visitors to Batavia City Centre Saturday for some shopping, games, face painting, woodwork crafts, musical entertainment, a live nativity and Santa Claus. The vendor fair goes to 8 p.m. Photos by Howard Owens.

Le Roy's Winterfest draws visitors, kids to various activities

By Joanne Beck










Top Photo: Oisin and Leandro Manamon, each 2, have a visit with Santa Claus during Winterfest Saturday in Le Roy; Rebekah Connors assists Paige, 4, and Braeden, 2, with crafts at The Hope Center; other scenes are of visitors and activities during the annual event in the village, including kids participating in an obstacle course at BeyonDriven. A tree lighting is set for 5:30 p.m. Photos by Howard Owens.

Train enthusiasts share their passion during open house in Oakfield

By Joanne Beck


With the onslaught of technology and video games these days, Michael Pyszczea was happy this weekend to introduce a longtime tradition that he’s known from decades ago.

Pyszczea and fellow club members had their 20th annual open house for the Genesee Society of Model Engineers in Oakfield.

As kids and their families checked out model train set-ups and the chugging vehicles along metal tracks, you could say the event was full steam ahead.

“This is about model railroading. Many of us grew up with train sets from our childhood, with Lionel around the tree. It’s not as prevalent … it’s out of focus. The cost of these things has  gone up, and sometimes kids would rather have video games,” he said. “This is just to share our enjoyment of trains, to allow a time for our family and our friends to come up here, and to bond with the community. And it really is for the kids. You go around and you see them going crazy over this.

“It’s something they can do and enjoy that doesn’t involve a joystick and a keyboard,” he said.

The club has been operating for 52 years, and has about 35 members, he said. Members may have relatives who work on a railroad, or are professionals in the field themselves, said Pyszczea, who is club treasurer.

Typical weeks would involve train enthusiasts gathering once or twice a week to construct layout, run and talk about trains, have a cup of coffee and socialize, he said.

But the open house offers special moments for others to partake in the hobby as well.

“This is how we grew up. You don’t see trains in department store windows any more. Some of (the visitors) are seeing model railroading, sometimes for the first time,” he said.






Top Photo: Colton Hilchey watches a train in action during Genesee Society of Model Engineers' open house Saturday in Oakfield; visitors enjoy checking out the various train layouts during the event. Photos by Howard Owens. 

A busy guy: Santa makes the rounds this weekend, including Oakfield

By Joanne Beck


Mckenzie, 4, has a chat with Santa Claus during his visit to Oakfield Saturday, as Ryder, 6, below, takes his turn afterward while their mom, Samantha Blake, takes photos.



Santa makes his way to the gazebo in the village of Oakfield Saturday before having several sit-down visits with children to review their wishlists. 


A visit from jolly ol' St. Nick made for plenty of photo opportunities for families Saturday in Oakfield.



Photos by Howard Owens.

Santa and Spider-Man make special visit Saturday in Batavia

By Joanne Beck


Bill and Joy Hume welcomed a special visitor Saturday at Foxprowl Collectables in Batavia. Santa Claus had a busy morning greeting visitors, including Spider-man, a regular character at the downtown shop. Photo by Howard Owens.

Stuff the Cruiser Saturday at Batavia Towne Center

By Joanne Beck


Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Jordan Alejandro donned a raincoat Saturday for a wet, windy Stuff the Cruiser drive as part of a larger law enforcement effort that involves Genesee County Probation Department, City of Batavia Police Department, New York State Police and Department of Environmental Conservation, and Genesee County Department of Social Services.

The collection is for new toys, clothing, small denominations of gift cards, personal care gift sets, hats/gloves and accessories, and non-perishable food items, to be distributed to children and families in need this holiday season.

The drive goes to 3 p.m. today in front of Target and Kohl's in Batavia.





Top Photo of Deputy Jordan Alejandro with the cruiser; and passing out lists of needed items to shoppers. Photos by Howard Owens.


Christmas parade lights up Corfu

By Joanne Beck


A bedazzled Pembroke Fire engine 95 lights up the evening during a Christmas parade in Corfu Friday. A spaghetti dinner was followed by the parade, a tree-lighting, and special visit from Santa Claus. Photo submitted by Jim Reinhardt.

Interpretive Nature Center brings the outdoors inside for critter activity Saturday

By Joanne Beck


Despite a windy, rain-soaked morning, Natalie Hawley enjoyed herself at Genesee County Park in East Bethany Saturday.

The five-year-old was part of the Create a Critter activity at the Interpretive Nature Center. Supplied with all sorts of twigs, pine cones, cattails, walnuts, and other outdoor embellishments, Natalie and other children got busy creating various creatures during the event.


Leane Hawley of Le Roy, Natalie’s mom, said that it’s something they were both interested in for different reasons.

“We are here with friends, and it’s been a long time since we’ve been here,” Leane said. “I’m very excited to share this with one of my daughters. I just love nature, and just love to explore.”

Meanwhile, Natalie wanted to craft a timely critter for the season.

“I’m making a reindeer,” she said. “Because it’s coming up for Christmas.”






Top Photo: Natalie Hawley, 5, picks out some materials to make a reindeer Saturday at the Interpretive Nature Center at Genesee County Park & Forest; other families also participate in Create a Critter at the site in East Bethany; and in photo above, Natalie and her mom Leane work on the project. Photos by Howard Owens.

GSO promises a holiday gift of music Sunday

By Joanne Beck


Not naming all of the musical line-up ahead of time is not to be punitive, says conductor S. Shade Zajac.

But rather, it’s similar to how Christmas operates: there’s usually an element of surprise by not opening the gift until it’s time.

“The idea was, normally, we put all the pieces we're playing on the poster, or at least most of them, so people kind of know what to expect. But you know, I've been thinking that it's, it's really easy sometimes to fall into the trap of just doing the same things over and over again, especially for holiday concerts,” Zajac said about his orchestra’s upcoming concert. “And, you know, it'll just have to wait until Sunday when you come to the concert to see or to hear exactly what we're doing, just so that there's a little bit of mystery, kind of like getting a gift or something you can't open until the day of. ”

The gift of Genesee Symphony Orchestra’s Symphonic Holiday Surprise will be opened at 4 p.m. Sunday at Genesee Community College, 1 College Road, Batavia.

To be sure, there will be plenty of holiday favorites tucked into some new, and perhaps less familiar songs, he said. Zajac, now in his seventh season with GSO, takes his time to develop a concert menu and does so well in advance.

“I’m always looking ahead to what’s next, logistically and practically. We start planning things now for next year, especially when working with soloists,” he said, adding that next year’s soloist has been booked since 2020.

“There are a lot of different holiday pieces with different arrangements of the same piece. So, it always makes things a little difficult. I had this realization this is my seventh season. And I try to always change it up a little bit each year,” he said. “We are always exploring different music and sometimes in different avenues, and always wanting to bring a new experience and bring pieces that people haven't maybe heard before, or maybe the orchestra hasn't played before.”


After asking the orchestra how many have played a particular piece that he was considering, only a few hands went up, which meant the number would not only introduce a new melody to patrons but also create a challenge for versed musicians.

And they have earned it.

“I just feel us getting better and better. I can certainly feel it, and I know the orchestra is starting to feel it as well,” he said. “There are so many things I still want us to do together. This orchestra really has a special place in my heart.”

Zajac continues to strengthen his own professional chops by performing with other groups and, for a week in January, working with Baltimore Orchestra.

This concert also features a promising violinist, Hilton High School senior Luke Pisani, recipient of GSO’s Young Artist Competition award, among many others.

Pisani, whose LinkedIn account states that he is a motivated, straight-A student who demonstrates a strong work ethic and creative ability, put that hard work on display for the competition, Zajac said. Pisani had competed previously, and, although he did not win that time, his musical prowess was a teaser of what was to come.

When Zajac heard him this time around, he couldn’t believe it was the same person playing.

“Some years, it’s really, really challenging to pick a winner, the talent is so vast. And some years you have someone who comes in, and that’s it,” he said. “He blew us all away; he stood out from the rest of the competition. The Concerto (for violin and orchestra in D major) is a very well-known, very challenging piece of music. He's playing the first movement, and so our audience will absolutely recognize some of the tunes and will just be blown away by his playing, I'm sure.”

Pisani also won competitions with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, Chicago Violin, Hochstein Youth Symphony Orchestra, Finger Lakes Symphony Orchestra and the Syracuse Friends of Chamber Music. His versatility spreads over to jazz piano, basketball and serving at his church. His list of accomplishments is quite lengthy, and his performance for the GSO competition demonstrated that his “amount of growth is incredible,” Zajac said,

“He is very technically advanced, you have to be to be playing Tchaikovsky,” he said. “He has that little something extra that makes people pay attention. And that's, of course, something that we look for in these competitions. A lot of people can play the notes. And then there are people who can actually play the music and just kind of give it that little extra something that grabs your attention. And he did that for us, and we were engaged his entire audition.”

As for the remaining concert, there will be “plenty of holiday cheer,” Zajac said. It will include works by Tchaikovsky, Anderson, Rimsky Korsakov and Vaughan Williams.

“Of course, there's holiday favorites that everyone loves that I'm sure we'll be playing. And maybe a couple of other little pieces that people wouldn't expect," he said.

Click HERE for a sample of Pisani on violin.

Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for seniors, and free for students with an ID, and are available at YNGodess, Holland Land Office Museum, The Coffee Press, from any board member or at GSO






Top Photo: Conductor S. Shade Zajac leads the Genesee Symphony Orchestra through rehearsal for its upcoming holiday concert. Photos by Howard Owens.

Neediest Children's Fund makes annual appeal

By Press Release

Press Release

As our world transitions from one of the most beautiful and perfect autumn seasons to the season of stillness and giving, the Twenty-five Neediest Children’sFund, Inc. once again makes its yearly appeal.

For with the help of the people of this good community and beyond, we are able to help students in the Batavia CitySchool District when no other help is available. It is a wonderful andimmeasurable gift to assist a child when their parents do not know from whencetheir help will come.

The ability to assist children, and therefore their parents, began about 1934 when the cost of a tonsillectomy was greater than what many parents could afford. The physicians graciously waived their fee for the surgeries of many children, but the cost of an overnight stay in the hospital proved to be too great for many families.

After all, it was the midst of the Great Depression. The cost was $7.50 for one night hospital stay. The school physician at the time was Dr. Dexter Pierce. It was his aspiration to establish a fund that would help the children of the Batavia City School District, when a need arose that was greater than what their parents could manage.

Thus, nearly 90 years later, we continue to assist those who “fall between the cracks;” the working poor; and those who just have no other means to provide what their child needs. The Twenty-five Neediest Fund, Inc. is also known as the “Quiet Fund” as we only make one annual request. Yet, our fund receives enough money to assist all requests that fall within the scope of our by-laws.

The fund is a true charity as there are no administrative costs. This means that 100 percent of the monies we receive go directly for the benefit of the children. We are able to provide children with a variety of health care services, dental care, vision care and glasses, prescription drugs, counseling, clothing, shoes, sneakers, and additional educational experiences.

As students’ needs are identified by teachers, their school nurse, or school social worker, the concerns are conveyed to Nancy Haitz, R.N., C.P.N.P, Batavia City School District’s Office of the Coordinator of Health Services. Mrs. Haitz then contacts the child’s parents, and if it is determined that they are in need of
assistance, the Quiet Fund steps in to help. The parents select what care is to be provided, and by whom, in order to provide a remedy. The fund committee remains unaware of the identity of the child or parent, so as to preserve the dignity of the family.

The Twenty-five Neediest Fund simply pays the bills without red tape or publicity. Although the initial intent was to assist twenty-five of the most needy children, the fund’s scope is to help whomever needs assistance, with no limit to the number of children helped.

We exist solely on the generosity of others. Anyone interested in contributing to the Quiet Fund may make their check payable to the Twenty-five Neediest Children’s Fund, Inc. to be sent to Nann K. Zorn, 12 River Street, Batavia, NY, 14020.

It is our belief that every gift is a gift of love and is an affirmation that no child should go without. On behalf of the children, and their parents, helped by your generosity and gifts of love, we extend to you a most sincere thank you and warm holiday wishes.

The Twenty-five Neediest Fund, Inc. Committee,
Nann K. Zorn
Nancy Arras
Benjamin J. Bonarigo, Jr., Esq.
Nancy Haitz
Sara Zorn Schroeder
Virginia Tiede

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